The Nvidia Shield is an interesting marriage of touch screen and analog based tech, a $299 device that comes with a clamshell design, which houses a “retinal” display that resides on the top of the dual analog control setup just beneath it. It’s definitely an impressive gadget, one that can output anything to a TV via mini-HDMI, one that can play Android games, and one that can stream PC games. It can accomplish number of tasks, but aside from PC game streaming, it fails to fulfill any need that isn’t being fulfilled by much cheaper devices on the market.
OS and Hardware
The Shield comes with Jelly Bean, the latest versions of Android can run almost every app available in the Play Store. And Nvidia Shield’s Tegra 4 processor, backed by 2GB of RAM, makes the OS run exceedingly fast, no question about it. There are few limitations, though. The Shield is without any camera, so don’t expect to be Snapchatting your friends. You also won’t be able to install certain tablet-specific apps.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then the Nvidia Shield is definitely a parentless enigma!
The device come with a microphone, which allows you to make skype calls and benefit from Android’s text to speech, as it can come in really handy here. It also has a built-in GPS for all your Foursquare and Google Maps check-ins. As there’s no cellular radio, you’ll need a Wi-Fi wherever you go. OS supports multiple users, so if you are sharing it with other family members, each person can have their own apps and accounts at the ready.
It’s 5” OLED screen is a beautiful display with serviceable touch response and a wonderful viewing angle. The screen is really bright and you can even watch movies via MicroSD card or Netflix, or through video apps like Hulu Plus, HBO Go, or Twitch TV. The Nvidia Shield can easily beam these apps to any Miracast compatible display. You can also plug in using a mini-HDMI out connector on the back of the Shield. However, you’ll have to use your own cable as it is not included in the package.
As for various non-gaming applications, Nvidia does as well as any other Android device with Twitter, Pandor, Facebook, Chrome and Skype. However, it’s awkward when an app fails to boot natively in the landscape mode, forcing you to turn it sideways to use the desired app. Thankfully, this doesn’t affect the most popular apps like HBO Go and Neflix. The bottom half of the Shield is dedicated to the controls. The layout of the controls is reminiscent of the Xbox 360 controller, including the Nvidia’s shoulder, D-Pad and the trigger buttons. The only real difference is visible in the unit’s symmetrical, recessed analog sticks and its weight.
Few Android games have been optimized for the Nvidia Shield’s controls, including Burn Zombie Burn, Arma Tactics THD, Riptide GP2, , The Conduit, Real Boxing and more.
It’s the biggest temptation of the Shield. If your PC has Nvidia’s GTX 650 (or better) CPU, you can stream PC games over WiFi (in 720p) directly to the shield. It all runs through Shield’s graphics optimization suite and the driver delivery system. You can also run Stream directly on the Nvidia in Big Picture mode, which allows you to stream all the games in your Stream library.
The Shield is definitely an interesting gadget and we’re sure it will attract lot of impassioned devotees. PC streaming is its biggest advantage over other handhelds, but not many will be interested to trade their high resolution PC monitors for its small 5 inch 720p touch screen. One of the best things about the handheld consoles is their ability to play favorite games anywhere, but Nvidia’s best games stop working the moment you step outside your WiFi network.